Having gone through difficult years after the USA embargo, Huawei continues to overcome all obstacles. The Chinese technology giant recently came out with its 5G processor, which went through the 7nm fabrication process developed with SMIC. However, Huawei and SMIC took action for 5nm processor technology. But is it possible to reach this level with old-style lithography machines?
Huawei and SMIC took action for the 5nm processor dream
Huawei, which captured the title of the world’s best-selling smartphone brand before the US embargo, is trying to come back to life. For this reason, Huawei, which announced the 5G-enabled Kirin processor years later, has now taken action for 5nm.
However, for 5nm technology, SMIC has old-style lithography machines that work with EUV, that is, deep ultraviolet (DUV) rather than extreme ultraviolet. Experts are of the opinion that it is theoretically possible to produce 5nm processors with these lithography devices.
However, SCIM needs to spend much more time and money for this production. Lithography machines that use EUV rays can go down to a wavelength of 13.5 nm. However, lithography machines that use DUV rays only reach wavelengths of 243 and 193 nm. But why is this important?
Wavelength sensitivity is important for much faster and error-free chip production in lithography machines. In this sense, the shorter the distance between the transistors, the more sensitive the wavelengths must be reduced.
SMIC needs to use a large number of photomasks to compensate for this wavelength disadvantage. Photomask is one of the methods used for much more precise production in the lithography process. SMIC needs to resort to this method to achieve wavelength sensitivity. However, according to experts, SMIC needs a lot of photomask for close sensitivity with EUV. This means that the cost of 5nm processors has increased significantly for Huawei.
On the other hand, SMIC is a processor manufacturing company funded by the Chinese state. The company, which could not go below 14nm until it cooperated with Huawei, has now managed to go down to 7nm. If SMIC can get down to the 5nm level, Huawei can be in the top five in the smartphone market again.